For all my power, I feel I’m losing control of the situation. Ricca, for instance. I don’t care for the throne so much as I wanted my daughter and I wanted to finish the Telechamber to be whole. To be fully here, fully empowered. The goal from there is simple: rule as god-queen. Or maybe I won’t rule. Ruling is troublesome. But being a god? That I can do.
The Riccans had to learn that lesson. Some of them, emboldened by recent events, decided to throw water bottles at me while I oversaw construction of the Telechamber. I raised a hand in their general direction and fired off a blast that scattered them. They didn’t really come close after that. Even the Deep Ones hung back. Really, it was only Shockley who approached. He wasn’t having fun, either. I think. Being my follower isn’t too popular at the moment, especially in a place where I ran off the beloved child Empress.
Did she run from me? Was it Medusa’s plan? Is my daughter now a hostage?
It occurred to me, as I stood my unceasing vigil over the Telechamber’s assembly, that I’d undone a lot of work I’d done to keep her safe. It was really distracting me, making me more a pair of beings in one body than one body and one mind. I could feel Omega’s mind reassuring me that no one would dare harm the daughter of a god. Which is bullshit. People are brainless dick monkeys. Of course some asswipe would come up with the idea of attacking a god’s daughter just to see if they could get away with it. They might even thing it’d give them some perverse form of street cred before I’d dissolve them, slowly, so that they feel every atom in their body pulling away from every other atom.
Thinking about Qiang made me realize I needed to have a heart to heart with myself, though. Because Omega’s answer didn’t satisfy me. I needed to look inward. I started to turn toward Shockley and ask if he could hit me with some more of that dust, but I ended up looking at a black void with Omega standing there instead. “Good. Maybe I’ll get some real answers now. What are your actual plans, dude?”
Omega, as a separate entity, looked like a guy now. “My goal is to be here. I have that right. To be here, to remain free and unharmed. It is the dream I’ve had for so long.”
The void around us shifted and he disappeared. I seemed to be running then, down a darkened corridor with stone walls. I heard someone next to me yell. I turned to look and it was a man in robes, with an arrow sticking out of his back. More flew out of the darkness, missing him, but at least a half dozen sank into the man’s flesh and he fell. I heard a yell of triumph behind me.
Suddenly, I came out into an opening. More people in robes were there. One of them pulled me to the side while others rolled a boulder in front of the door way and barricaded it. The chamber we were in looked like a cave, but with a hole in the top that allowed light to touch the center of a design carved over the floor, which was red. I could even smell the blood that had flowed through all the engravings of that design, courtesy of the dead goats piled up on the edges of the chamber.
The scene paused as Omega appeared. “You know what it’s like to be nothing but a pawn in the games of the powerful. You were a prized weapon. We were far less valuable. You were trained, fed, allowed to rest, given equipment; but I was far less.” He paced, looking around. “All I wanted was the power to resist and live free. I was scarecely empowered when I was banished, and the brethren who aided me put to the sword. They were mere servants. Their defiance made it so their value lay in being a lesson for others with hope to follow our path. I didn’t have further plans beyond that all-consuming drive.”
He stopped pacing and looked down. “They banished me and killed everyone I knew and cared about. The world moved on and changed completely. My only plan is to be, and to make sure nobody can trap me or kill me for the perceived crime of existing freely.” I felt the anger running through me from our bond as the scene disappeared, leaving us in the void again.
“I understand a lot of what that’s like. Just being allowed to live was a big part of what I was about when I got here. But I see more similarities, too. The way you just casually blast a bunch of people in a heavily-populated city, for instance. You don’t care. It’s hard to tell because of us being merged, but how much of the killing and violence over the past few days was me being a depressed asshole, and how much of it was you?”
He smiled. “Even if it were all you, I would not care to stop you. These people are nothing to me. They are scared as you were scared. If given the choice, they wouldn’t have allowed you to their world. You, who slaughters them by the dozen. You, who looks down on them with contempt. You, who thinks you are better and special and deserve to be immune from their punishments because you can break their bones. I, too, see that similarity. I am tired of submitting to the laws of corrupt man. Any who try to stop me shall fall to my power.”
Another scene shifted around us. We were in the air over Ricca, looking down on the city. A red hand, my hand, raised itself. Parts of the city erupted in explosions at random. “What the fuck, these are my people! That’s my body!”
Omega grabbed me and held me in place. “It is our body, and those are people who sided against you. They deposed you when you seemed to support me, or they failed to resist the ones who did.”
I grabbed him. “Listen, I see a lot of myself in you. A lot of myself as I was for a long time after I got here. I get it, ya know? People not being valuable to you unless they’re valuable to you? It’s the exact same thinking as the people who used to own us. So what? That’s what you’re thinking. It’s your turn. You get to be the one with the power of life and death over people like those who didn’t care about yours. The people who thought you were the bad guy for wanting to be free, or who are just like those ones.”
I looked at the images around us, tried to will my hand down. It reluctantly obeyed. “All this power, and our first thoughts were to just kill and destroy. There’s someone out there who spent a long time trying to say I could have been better, and I thought it was a bunch of bullshit. But while I haven’t been perfect, I’ve helped build a country back up. You come to Ricca and the waters heal you. We’re saving immigrants from concentration camps, and accepting Deep One refugees that other people would have labeled monsters. Any one of them could have turned up on the shore of any other country on Earth, except the landlocked ones, and been the same kind of killer. You have power, but you don’t have to exert it by hurting people. It’s so mindless and petty, too. You work to get all this power, just to kill people you don’t even know.”
Omega stared into me, then laughed. “You have no right to counsel me in such a way, maniac.”
I grit my teeth. “I’m trying to get you to stop making the mistakes I made.”
“You are trying to protect your daughter. Because you fear me,” he said. “Remember when you did not fear? The world was your plaything, for you to blow up while laughing. You wanted to deny me the same privilege.” He peered more closely at me. “You have been working against me.”
“I hit a low point, with my anger and paranoia convincing me to open myself up to you. But you can be better than I was. You don’t have to be a loser with a shitload of power who doesn’t know what to do with it other than cuss a lot and kill people,” I explained. I mean, I saw what Omega’s history was, and I’m sympathetic to it. But his plan is seriously to just appear and blow shit up because he has power. That’s no real plan. That’s just boring and being a loser, the same way any of those dumpster-licking assclowns in the United States thinks the way to have power is to grab a gun and shoot up a kindergarten or something. The easiest way to exert power is to hurt someone else, but it really is petty.
I really was petty. But I was also suicidal. I didn’t have it in me to kill myself, because it felt like a waste of all the people I had to kill to survive. I wanted someone else to do it for me. I was a monster who couldn’t imagine happiness anymore. I thought I could find it in the humor of tearing apart people’s lives. I suppose it’s a testament to all the medication and the stuff Psychsaur did to my head that I’m not like that anymore. And then there’s Qiang. Somehow, I can love that girl. I want to be there for her and take care of her. I want to live for her.
At the same time, I can’t exactly ask Omega to pop out a kid so he has something to live for, too. That’s also pretty terrible. But compared to the me that wanted to lay dead in the ruins of the Empyre State Building, the me that exists today is better. And not just better for the world, Medusa, or Qiang. I’m better for me.
“Touching,” Omega said, as if he’d read all of that as clearly as anybody else could. “But why should I take advice from a traitor? I can see it now. You have been undermining me, somehow. There are things you have done to fight me even as we lived as one.” He raised a finger and tapped my forehead. “Something is missing here. You removed knowledge from yourself. Why, if not that it would have aided me? And why remove this if you wanted to help me? Yes, you took the coward’s way out and invited me in to save your own life, but you attacked your own brain to save those others. What living being would willingly make an idiot of itself?”
Around me, I saw simulacra of my family. Qiang, Max, Holly, Sam, Citra, Silver Shark, and even Medusa. That last one gave me some mixed feelings still, especially after having to pretty much admit she was right about me. I hope she never finds out about that. Well, little chance of that. Not like anyone from this universe can read this.
Omega stepped toward the false Qiang, taking on a shape I can see in the mirror every day. “I will not give you up, Gecko. This is my body now. That is the cost of your cowardice and insistence in saving your own life with a lie.” Omega patted the unflinching face of the mental image of my daughter. “Whatever else you’ve done, though I know not what, shall cost you dearly.”
Omega disappeared, though the blackness disappeared as well. I was back to myself, floating above Ricca. But then I looked down at my hands without meaning to, or feeling my arms move. I realized that while I could see, hear, smell, feel, and even taste, I couldn’t do anything.
I floated lower and Omega, in control of my body, spoke to Shockley. “Finish overseeing this. I must punish the traitor Gecko.”
“As you wish, my god,” Shockley said, laying it on a bit thick for my taste.
Then I got to watch as I took off for a flight across the Pacific, Omega muttering to me, “I will find her.”
Over my dead body, bucko.
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Go kick his ass, Gecko.
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